The Fan Hitch Volume 8, Number 2, March 2006

Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog

In This Issue...

Editorial: Tradition: Passing the Torch
Fan Mail
F.I.D.O.: Kevin Slater
Dog Yard Noise
Road Food Inuit Dog Style
Differences in Mushing: Greenland and Arctic Canada, Part III
How Much is That Doggie in the Window?
Product Review: MAXIGUARD® Zn7™ Derm
 IMHO: People, People, People

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Editor: Sue Hamilton
Webmaster: Mark Hamilton
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This site is dedicated to the Inuit Dog as well as related Inuit culture and traditions. It is also home to The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog.

One end of a chain picket line (Canada) held fast
to an ice davit                      Photo: Hamilton

A Visualization of Differences Between 
Greenland and Canadian Mushing, Part III

by Sue Hamilton

Confinement of Dogs
Before the Inuit lived in permanent settlements, dogs ran loose in the camps. They were better socialized then. Eventually, dogs were required to be tied up. Today, although one will occasionally see groups of dogs (adults or puppies) kept in pens, the usual method of confinement is picketing, tied by a length of line to one or two fixed points.

Dogs picketed in Canada                    Photo: Hamilton

In Canada, dogs are picketed in linear fashion and the material of choice is some manner of chain. The "drops" - the short section of chain off the main to which the dogs are attached - are either singles separated by a distance to prevent dogs from having contact with each other, or in pairs. An ice davit (a thick "bridge" of ice remaining after the ice on either side and underneath has been hacked away) is created to secure each end of the picket line.

In Greenland, dogs are tethered by the end of their tuglines
to a single ice davit                           Photo: Hamilton

In Greenland, the chain picket line is also used in town designated dog yards.  Out on the trail the dogs remain in their harnesses with their polypropylene tug lines attached. In the same manner that tugs are fixed to the sled, they are bunched together at their terminal point and then tied to a line which is anchored to an ice davit or some other fixed point, if on land.  All dogs have complete access to each other, although it is not uncommon to see them resting in a great circle. 

Thankfully, the art of building a snow house - iglu - is still practiced in both Canada and Greenland. An architectural marvel, it comes in many sizes and is incredibly warm and, in a raging windstorm, incredibly peaceful. However, modern temporary dwellings are commonly used. 

Canadian tent                           Photo: Hamilton

In Canada the wall tent is typically seen. The dominant variety is the double wall Fort McPherson Tent. The tent is stretched out and held in place by lines attached to ice davits or four-liter (gallon) cans of Coleman™ fuel buried in the snow. The plastic tarp used to secure the contents of the qamutiq while traveling also serves as the "ground cloth", on top of which go the caribou hides and then the sleeping bags.

Spring 2000 in North Greenland.  A tent covering two sleds.  You 
sleep on the sled on reindeer skins.         Photo: Manfred Horender
                          Courtesy of Greenland Tourism Photo Service

In Greenland tents are used as well but they are much smaller and set up over pairs of qamutiit. 

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